Olympia, The capital


Washington is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States located south of British Columbia, Canada, north of Oregon and west of Idaho. Washington was carved out of the western part of Washington Territory which had been ceded by Britain in 1846 by the Oregon Treaty as settlement of the Oregon Boundary Dispute. It was admitted to the Union as the forty-second state in 1889.

The 2010 United States Census recorded the state's population at 6,724,540. Almost 60 percent of Washington's residents live in the Seattle metropolitan area, the center of transportation, business, and industry along the Puget Sound region of the Salish Sea. The remainder of the state consists of deep rain forests in the west, mountain ranges in the center, northeast and far southeast, and eastern semi-deserts given over to intensive agriculture.

Washington was named after George Washington, the first President of the United States, and is the only U.S. state named after a president. Washington is commonly called Washington state or occasionally the State of Washington to distinguish it from the U.S. capital (and because its proper name is the State of Washington). However, Washingtonians (residents of Washington) and many residents of neighboring states normally refer to the state simply as "Washington", while usually referring to the nation's capital as "Washington, D.C." or simply "D.C."

Washington Territory was named after George Washington, the first President of the United States. The area was originally part of a region called the Columbia District after the Columbia River. Ironically, the area was renamed Washington in order to avoid confusion with the District of Columbia, which contains the city of Washington.

Washington is the only U.S. state named after a president. To distinguish it from the U.S. capital, which is also named for George Washington, Washington is often referred to as Washington state, or in more formal contexts as "The State of Washington". Washingtonians (residents of Washington) and other residents of the Pacific Northwest normally refer to the state simply as "Washington", while instead referring to the nation's capital as "Washington, D.C." or simply "D.C."

Washington is the north-western most state of the contiguous United States. Its northern border lies mostly along the 49th parallel, and then via marine boundaries through the Strait of Georgia, Haro Strait and Strait of Juan de Fuca, with the Canadian province of British Columbia to the north. Washington is bordered by Oregon to the south, with the Columbia River forming the western part and the 46th parallel forming the eastern part of the southern boundary.

To the east, Washington borders Idaho, bounded mostly by the meridian running north from the confluence of the Snake River and Clearwater River (about 116°57' west), except for the southernmost section where the border follows the Snake River. To the west of Washington lies the Pacific Ocean.[5] Washington was a Union territory during the American Civil War, although it never actually participated in the war.

Washington is part of a region known as the Pacific Northwest, a term which always includes Washington and Oregon and may or may not include Idaho, western Montana, northern California, and Alaska, depending on the user's intent.

The high mountains of the Cascade Range run north-south, bisecting the state. From the Cascades westward, Western Washington has a mostly marine west coast climate, with mild temperatures and wet winters, autumns and springs, and relatively dry summers. The Cascade Range contains several volcanoes, which reach altitudes significantly higher than the rest of the mountains. From the north to the south these volcanoes are Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams. Mount St. Helens is currently the only Washington volcano that is actively erupting; however, all of them are considered active volcanoes. Mount Rainier, the tallest mountain in the state, is 50 miles (80 km) south of the city of Seattle, from which it is prominently visible. The 14,411-foot-tall (4,392 m) Mt. Rainier is considered the most dangerous volcano in the Cascade Range, due to its proximity to the Seattle metropolitan area, and most dangerous in the continental U.S. according to the Decade Volcanoes list. It is also covered with more glacial ice than any other peak in the contiguous 48 states.

Western Washington also is home of the Olympic Mountains, far west on the Olympic Peninsula, which supports dense forests of conifers and areas of temperate rainforest. These deep forests, such as the Hoh Rainforest, are among the only temperate rainforests in the continental United States.

In contrast, Eastern Washington, east of the Cascades, has a relatively dry climate with large areas of semiarid steppe and a few truly arid deserts lying in the rainshadow of the Cascades; the Hanford reservation receives an average annual precipitation of 6 to 7 inches (150 to 180 mm). Farther east, the climate becomes less arid, increasing as one goes east to 21.2 inches (540 mm) in Pullman. The Okanogan Highlands and the rugged Kettle River Range and Selkirk Mountains cover much of the northeastern quadrant of the state. The Palouse southeast region of Washington was grassland that has been mostly converted into farmland, and extends to the Blue Mountains.


Luciano Mende

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